A little break

I’ve been working some pretty long hours recently in an effort to move through my Customs list and also manage to get a few items finished for inventory. But! I’m going to be taking a little break in a few weeks and I wanted to let you know how that will impact you.

Truth is, it won’t impact you much. 🙂

I’m going to process orders this weekend as usual. Then next week, I’ll process orders on Wednesday (June 4), and then I’ll turn off my computer that night and I won’t turn it on again until June 14 or 15. I’ll similarly ignore (or try to ignore) posts to Facebook and private messages on Facebook.

I cannot possibly imagine anyone needing anything urgently that cannot wait for a week, but if there’s something you feel needs to be addressed immediately, Facebook is probably the best way to reach me. (https://www.facebook.com/wallypopIA)

Advertisements

The current situation at Wallypop

It’s been a while since I updated what’s going on around here.

First, a bit of background. Our 2 year old, Teddy, was born with kidney failure. On July 18, 2013, he received a kidney transplant. Though we had some initial bumps, the last two or three months have been remarkably smooth, and we’re hopeful that we might be able to have a few years of healthy, normal life. However, kidney transplant kids tend to have a remarkably high rate of hospital admissions, and these admissions can come out of nowhere. I can’t predict these admissions, and we will continue to work under the caveat that I may have to close things down briefly with very little notice.

Please order with confidence! As always, I have contingency plans in place for sudden hospitalizations, and I’m not going to run off with your money. I try my best to stay in contact with customers whose orders end up in limbo, and I have friends who can come in and complete your orders if needed. All custom work, as explained at the time a customer originally requests a custom spot, is simply put on hold for the duration of any admission.

Teddy’s medical needs are still such that a considerable part of my day is spent doing things with him that “regular” toddlers just don’t need – on top of all the regular toddler stuff. We also still have a considerable number of doctor’s appointments, therapy appointments, etc. I’m still working reduced hours compared to my “pre Teddy” schedule, and keeping slightly lower inventory levels.

I process and mail orders once a week (usually over the weekend). I try to answer emails and phone calls two or three times a week. I am not in my office every day. Generally speaking, I can’t promise to respond to your emails within 24 hours. Even beyond Teddy’s needs, we are a family of five. A family of five who sometimes get sick, leave town, have a few remarkably busy days, etc. I work in my basement, not in an office. I work around my family, not apart from them. If it is really important to you to order from a business that will respond to any communication immediately, then I would respectfully suggest that we are not the right place for you. If it’s really important to you to order from a business that is run by a human who works really hard to provide you with amazingly awesome products at reasonable prices, then I’d suggest you’re in exactly the right place!

Please do not ever feel bad about emailing, calling, asking me to make something for you, placing a special order, or emailing to check on status of your order. That’s why I’m open! If it’s taking longer than you think it should to receive a response, by all means, contact us again – things do get overlooked from time to time. But also please remember that I’m just simply not available to Wallypop 24 hours a day.

Ups and Downs of Craft Business Ownership

I was clearing out some old email today, and got to thinking about the challenges of owning a craft-related business. Or any business, really, but these were mostly emails from Boulevard Designs.

The customer service issues are what particularly vex or delight me. It’s apparently very important to me that people like me, and I have difficulty with the very sage advice dished out in Purple Cow, which I’m currently reading. “You are not your product.” I think it’s easier for people who don’t physically create their own products to distance themselves from their creations. It’s one thing to design something and then have a factory make it for you. It is quite another to design something and then put it together yourself, in your basement, with your children playing at your feet and your husband calling you to come eat dinner already.

I try to overdeliver. I usually try not to purposefully underpromise, but I do try to deliver better than promised. I do not always succeed, and have managed to be fairly kind to myself on those occasions when I do make mistakes. Most of the time, customers are also very forgiving.

But sometimes, I am surprised, as well. One time, I shipped an order to address indicated on the PayPal payment (which is Blvd Designs policy), and then received a complaint because the buyer had wanted it to go elsewhere (and had apparently indicated such when she checked out, right at the same time that she would have seen the message that I ship to the PP Payment address no matter what)*. I explained how that had happened, the purchaser realized where we went wrong, and said it wasn’t that big of a deal, and she LOVED the item. Then she gave me negative feedback. I was practically crushed by this.

Contrast this, though, with a LARGE package I accidentally sent to the wrong address. In another country. And missing an entire line of her address. I mean, talk about mistakes. Holy cow, I was physically ill over that one. And the customer was so gracious. We both kept a close eye on the tracking information, and the package did eventually arrive at her house. She even offered to pay for the difference in shipping, which I refused.

I’ve had customers complain because I delivered their orders earlier than promised. I’ve had customers complain because I shipped their orders as promised, but they wanted them sooner, even though getting them sooner would have necessitated Devine intervention. I’ve had customers (rightly) complain when their orders arrive later than promised or expected. And I’ve had customers who were more than overly forgiving of mistakes, who go out of their way to be accommodating, who are understanding when I’m out of their first choice of product, and their second, as well.

It’s definitely interesting, owning your own business, and having your hands involved in every single aspect of that business. There’s no one else to blame when things go wrong. There’s nobody to back me up, nobody to take the heat, nobody to help solve a problem, nobody to share the workload. But there’s also nobody else to take the credit, to share the glory, or to share the sense of pride in a job well done.

*Note that I’ve since changed the policy.

WAHM vs Factory Diapers

Why should I buy WAHM diapers when I can buy cloth diapers made in China for so cheap?

This is something I increasingly hear out in “the general public.”

Why support a WAHM, instead of buying from a factory?

– You’re supporting another family like yours, instead of a big faceless corporation. You’re helping that family pay their mortgage, or send their kids to dance classes, or eat dinner.

– You’re buying quality you just can’t find in something made in a factory.

– You get unparallelled customer service, because when you email or call, you’re usually talking to the owner.

– You’re keeping your money in your community, if you buy from local WAHMs.

– You’re supporting a small (micro) business. Small businesses are so vital to the health of our economy. Many people assume that *other* people are supporting the small businesses in their communities, and then are saddened when they learn that yet another small local business has closed because everyone else in the area was, like them, going to a national chain instead. They just assumed that the business would always be there. Small local businesses won’t be around forever if we don’t support them by shopping there!

– Generally speaking, you’re saving money. Many factory diapers are not using the top quality materials, and their products fail more quickly than many WAHM brands do. Over the life of your children, you save money by buying quality. (Trust me, for nearly a decade, I repaired diapers as part of Wallypop, and I never repaired a WAHM diaper. I repaired mostly the popular factory diapers, and they fell apart shockingly quickly.)

Jan Andrea from Sleeping Baby Productions has a great article on WAHM baby carriers, and I couldn’t agree more with what she says. It also applies to diapers. She lists out many of the factors that go into the price of the item, and concludes by saying, “In the United States, we’re used to buying things at essentially slave-labor prices. Clothes and accessories that are made in China, Taiwan, the Philippines, and many other eastern countries are priced far below what they really ought to be, if the people making them were earning a fair wage. Instead, we’re able to purchase t-shirts for $5, jeans for $10, etc., not because they’re not well-made, but because the people making them are earning less than $1 per day in many cases. (Not to mention that the people selling them are often earning little more than minimum wage themselves!) Among the many other problems this causes, it also breeds a mindset that price is everything. If it can’t be had for cheap, we don’t want it.”

Ultimately, though, it really just comes down to a choice on the part of the consumer.

I personally prefer to buy my stuff from *people* instead of *companies* when possible. I prefer to buy things made by humans instead of machines when possible. I prefer to support families and mom business owners instead of companies and overseas factory owners when possible. When I spend my money, I want to support other families like mine, if possible.

And I know others just want to buy the dirt cheapest items they can. I can respect that to a certain extent. Everyone has to make choices of what’s most important to them, and some just aren’t in a position to be able to support small, local businesses or to make purchase decisions that save money in the long run, because they need to save money in the short-term. I’ve been there, I understand that.

But if you’re in a position to be able to choose to support work at home moms and dads for part of your purchases, I’d strongly encourage you do to so!

The current situation at Wallypop

As of Monday, August 26, we’re back open and running as normal.

Our 1 year old, Teddy, was born with kidney failure. On July 18, 2013, he received a kidney transplant, and was discharged from the hospital 3 weeks later, on August 5. His recovery is going well, though there are a LOT of ups and downs. We visit the local hospital once a week for labs, and drive the 2 hours to his hospital once a week for an appointment with his nephrologist (which takes essentially the entire day).

I’ve learned from other moms of toddler kidney transplant recipients that we should expect at least one admission this first year, probably a few. Because of his high level of immunosuppression, he will be admitted for any fever this first year, as well as for any number of other things. I can’t predict these admissions, and we will continue to work under the caveat that I may have to close things down briefly with very little notice.

Please order with confidence! As always, I have contingency plans in place for sudden hospitalizations, and I’m not going to run off with your money. I try my best to stay in contact with customers whose orders end up in limbo, and I have friends who can come in and complete your orders if needed.

Teddy’s medical needs are still such that a considerable part of my day is spent doing things with him that “regular” toddlers just don’t need – on top of all the regular toddler stuff.  I’m still working reduced hours compared to my normal schedule, and keeping slightly lower inventory levels.

I process and mail orders once a week (usually over the weekend). I try to answer emails and phone calls two or three times a week.

Please do not ever feel bad about emailing, calling, asking me to make something for you, or placing a special order. That’s why I’m open! Wallypop supports my family and helps pay our mortgage. (It’s considerably less help these days than it used to be, with my reduction in hours, but it is still a help!) When you buy from Wallypop, you’re helping out our family – and we greatly appreciate it!